PhD Student Erin Huiting is a 2024 Weintraub Awardee

Erin Huiting has been named a 2024 Harold M. Weintraub Graduate Student Award winner by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in recognition of her exceptional achievement in graduate studies in the biological sciences.

Erin HuitingHuiting is a PhD candidate in the Biomedical Sciences program, where she conducts research in the lab of her graduate adviser, Dr. Joe Bondy-Denomy. She is a UCSF Discovery Fellow and has been a recipient of a Benioff Center for Microbiome Medicine Graduate Fellowship and a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, among other distinctions.

As a 2024 Weintraub Awardee, Huiting is one of just 12 students selected from an international pool of nominees. Since its founding in 2000, the Weintraub Award has been given to 339 awardees, of which 25 have been from UCSF. The award is named for Dr. Harold “Hal” Weintraub, a molecular biologist who helped found the Basic Sciences Division at Fred Hutch and died of brain cancer in 1995 at age 49. The award honors Weintraub’s scientific leadership and his legacy as an extraordinary mentor, colleague, collaborator and friend.

Huiting and her fellow recipients this year will be honored at a symposium May 3 at Fred Hutch where they will each give a presentation about their work. “I’m deeply humbled and grateful to receive the 2024 Weintraub Award that recognizes my PhD thesis research,” remarked Huiting. “I’m also thrilled to have the unique opportunity to meet and learn from an exceptional group of scientists at the upcoming award symposium.”

In her own graduate research, Huiting has studied immunology and host-pathogen interactions. As she explains it: “Host-pathogen interactions are fundamental drivers of evolution amongst all organisms on the planet. Recent discoveries have uncovered that all domains of life use cGAS enzymes to generate cyclic nucleotide signals that induce an anti-viral immune response. My PhD research combined classic microbiology approaches and modern genetic tools to study how bacterial cGAS-based immunity protects against bacterial viruses or phages, and in doing so, discovered a new, potent phage inhibitor that ‘sponges up’ the cyclic nucleotide signals. These findings establish an entirely new paradigm of cGAS inhibition as well as new avenues for anti-immune therapeutic development.”

Upon receiving the Weintraub award, Huiting reflected on those who’ve supported her in her graduate career. “Many people have given me the agency and resources to pursue my PhD research, and in turn, become an independent and confident scientist. I’m especially thankful for my PI Dr. Joe Bondy-Denomy and all of his mentorship and support. Thanks also to the UCSF Graduate Division and the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program for believing in me at the very beginning of my scientific career and providing me opportunities to grow throughout my PhD. Last, but most importantly, I’m thankful for all of my incredible colleagues, collaborators, family, and friends.”

Fred Hutch solicits nominations for the Weintraub Award each fall from PhD programs in the biological sciences.

Based in Seattle, Fred Hutch is an independent, nonprofit organization and the only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center in Washington. The Center has a global reputation for discoveries in cancer, infectious disease and basic research, including important advances in bone marrow transplantation, immunotherapy, HIV/AIDS prevention and COVID-19 vaccines. Fred Hutch operates eight clinical care sites that provide medical oncology, infusion, radiation, proton therapy and related services and has network affiliations with hospitals in four states. Fred Hutch also serves as UW Medicine’s cancer program.